14 February 2010

Uganda: Sh5 Billion MOGAS Fuel Depot in Banda Irks Residents

Kampala — MOGAS is constructing a multi-billion fuel depot in Banda, on the Kampala-Jinja highway, causing unease among the residents.

The $2.2m project (sh4.8b) is being carried out in Banda B3 zone, a few metres from the taxi stage.

Last week, the staff of Davids Engineering were seen working on two of the four huge storage tanks. The proposed fuel depot is being carried out on three acres of land at the edge of the expansive Kinawataka wetland.

The Mogas managing director, Partha Ghosh, was quoted as saying they had conducted environmental audits and submitted the reports to the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and Kampala City Council for approval.

In a separate interview with The New Vision on Thursday, Waisswa Ayazika, a NEMA official, said the reports were approved last year.

He explained that the assessment considered social issues such as the compensation of residents who were occupying the land.

"We also ordered them to put in place a mechanism for containing oil in case of spillages and fire outbreaks," Ayazika said.

Asked why NEMA approved the development in a heavily populated area, Ayazika said: "There was commercial activity at the premises prior to the proposed oil depot. The place is not a wetland but has close proximity to a wetland."

The Banda B3 LC1â-àchief, John Alya, said he was compensated before he vacated the land but settled in Kinawataka wetland.

Asked why he had violated the environmental laws, he replied: "The minister at one time engaged us in a meeting, but the then Nakawa deputy resident district commissioner, Mpimbaza Hashaka, asked her why NEMA, which had approved industries in the wetlands, was stopping the locals from building in the wetlands."

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